Web to classroom workshops

By: Dr Lynda Kelly, Category: Museullaneous, Date: 25 Nov 2009

On Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 November 2009 we held web to classroom workshops with primary and secondary teachers. The aim was to find out how teachers are using the web in their classrooms and how we can work more closely with them via our own website.

Web to Classroom Workshop

Web to Classroom Workshop
Photographer: Helen Wheeler © Australian Museum

My notes/impressions from the workshop.

Secondary teachers:

There was a variety of ways teachers work with their students in the classroom. Moodle appears to be a popular tool for working together [Moodle is "... a Course Management System (CMS), also known as a Learning Management System or a Virtual Learning Environment. It is a Free web application that educators can use to create effective online learning sites."]. YouTube was another popular teaching tool.

Teachers also often have access to sites that tend to be locked (such as YouTube), although access didn't appear to be a huge problem, as most students can always access these sites at home. Students do have ideas and knowledge about palgiarism, authenticity and valid, reliable sites.

I asked them what they felt were the big trends/issues around the web that will impact on them for the future:

  • year 9 laptop program will impact on teachers' practices - there will be more two-way interaction and students working both with each other and other schools
  • all have mobile phones so mobile web will become important
  • wireless schools - no longer are students/teachers tied to a classroom or even their own school environment
  • students don't tend to comment on websites unless their peers have - that then gives them the confidence to comment themselves 
  • students value their social networks and peers rather than "experts"
  • teachers are no longer 'repositories of information' but are facilitators of students' learning - the realtionship is more two-way and equal
  • there is a move towards digital books primarily to reduce bag weight
  • students expect instant feedback as they are used to this in their lives
  • students want to learn and prefer sites that are interactive
  • still some resistance among teachers who fear change, but all recognise that the change is coming!

Primary teachers:

The primary teachers had different experiences. Access to computers and the web was variable, although it was commonly agreed that most, if not all, students and teachers have web access. The amount of computers available varied, for example from one school with a Year 6 one latop per child program, to those with labs, with setups in the libraries and all had computers in their classrooms. Some used Macs and others PCs, all had access to interactive whiteboards with the use of them (and their overall usefulness) the subject of some debate! Many were using wikis with their classes and also invited parental involvement in this. Connected Classroom was also being used (some had done classes here) and this seems to have potential to increase, as well as driving physical visitation (and something the Museum could explore further I think).

Their big issues for the future:

  • challenge is for those teachers who don't want to engage with this technology - it's not age-related, many are fearful, are tied to 'traditional ways' of doing things and see it as a threat ("they dont want the parents in their classroom" was one quote that resonated with me)
  • interactive whiteboards are good but will need to have the students doing something at the same time
  • we are now dealing with "digital learners" - kids in future will never not have had their hands on something that doesn't plug in
  • need to address the needs for kids to be physical and outdoors - don't neglect this
  • kids (and us I believe) are now totally multitasked - where in the past this would be seen as a negative we now need to see this as this as the norm
  • social and collaborative learning is now the way we all learn
  • childrens' brains have changed to accommodate the ways they now learn and engage
  • they don't need to retain/remember information as they can just go back and access it again
  • we have moved from a one-to-many form of teaching to a many-to-many approach and a more equal arrangement (and a more empowered one too I suspect)
  • the beauty of sharing online is that students can see each others' work and learn from that

My overall thoughts/themes/learnings:

  • I was reminded about the importance of the web in all of our lives, and the central part it plays for young people especially. A few years ago we did a study with students and asked them to complete the sentence not being able to access the web is like not being able to... and this blog post outlines some of what they said.
  • Digital leaners need to be catered for and we'll need to change our own mindsets and work practices to accomodate and interact with them.
  • The Connected Classroom will be a way for us to connect physical and virtual experiences for schools (and drive visitation which is an important revenue stream).
  • Social media tools will be increasingly the way we communicate both within the school environment and outside - need to assist kids in thinking about 'respectful' ways to communicate online.
  • Wikis in particular can open up the classroom, not only to shared learning between teachers and students, but with parents and the extended community who can also participate.

A final thought. Working directly with audiences as we did today through setting profiles, showing sets, talking and getting feedack is such an important part of our jobs, and it was great to have this opportunity to work and learn together. Teachers are active and engaged users and really care about their students' learning. I really enjoyed the two days and would like to thank all for your input and enthusiam.


Lynda Kelly - 8.12 AM, 17 December 2009

Here's an interesting blog post: Social Networking in Education - A Whitepaper. Looks at what Web 2.0 offers to educators. I especially liked this quote: "Web 2.0 plays to the strength of educators - curiosity and love of learning - by opening the doors to collaboration and participation. It encourages and facilitates the natural desire to share what you know and to learn from your colleagues."

Lynda Kelly - 9.12 AM, 13 December 2009

Came across this site via an exchange with UK colleagues:  Web 2.0 for teaching: wishy-washy or nitty-gritty? It refers to a research report which is available on request done by Uni of Manchester and is less about educational websites using web 2.0 tools than teachers using them.

Lynda Kelly - 11.12 AM, 09 December 2009

Thanks for your response Janet. I was very interested in the IMLS skill matrix. We were discussing this matrix during the afternoon of yesterday's workshop and thought be useful to take it further. I did a blog post about Knowledge Workers that also listed a range of skills for the future so we may combine the two of them somehow.

I also think that we need to realise that we all do have more digitial skills than we think we do, and that harnessing Web 2.0 is more about changing the ways we think and our general outlook rather than our technical ability.

Janet Carding - 1.12 PM, 08 December 2009

Here's the link to the IMLS 21st Century information I mentioned in the last post:

Janet Carding - 12.12 PM, 08 December 2009

I am glad that these two days were so useful, and I'm fascinated by the thought that the next generation in primary schools will be digital learners from the outset. 

I've been reading up on what the IMLS (Govt funding body in the USA)  sees as 21st century skills, and see that information and technology skills are vital sitting alongside critical thinking, adaptability and a whole host of other 'literacies'.  It is making me think that as information becomes so readily available on the web, learning will more and more focus on skill's development in how to use content, rather than learning knowledge itself.  So this is both a technological change, but a redefinition of learning too. Great to see that in these sorts of workshops the Museum is creating the tools to be able to respond to these changes and shape new programs that support future learning practices. Very exciting!


Helen Wheeler - 12.12 PM, 07 December 2009

I found this day invaluable. It was great to hear the innovative ways that teachers are using the web in the classroom and to learn about their access issues (there seemed to be a huge range in access). It was excellent to see the teachers using the website and I have already been able improve navigation of the Education Services Category (tab) through their feedback. The 'Sets' function of My Museum seemed to be a big hit and something that would be recommended to other teachers.

Thanks to all who attended. I look forward to more of your comments on the web. Keep them coming.

Lynda Kelly - 6.12 AM, 01 December 2009

Thnx for your comment Ondine and great to see that you anticipate more interaction.

Amelia - be interested to see the outcomes of your work.

sparrowbee - 10.11 AM, 27 November 2009
That's so helpful Lynda, I am working on digital learning in the classroom so this feedback is invaluable!
Ondine Evans - 8.11 AM, 27 November 2009

I really appreciated the feedback on our content and ways to make it more accessible, particularly for younger students. I have already started to plan which content areas to tackle (e.g. dinosaurs, extinct animals, mammals, minibeasts and geoscience) and look forward to our teachers' feedback on progress made in these areas! In general, I look forward to more interaction with teachers and students as we continue to improve and add to our site. Thanks to all who participated and to Helen Wheeler who organised these workshops - it was excellent!

Lynda Kelly - 4.11 PM, 26 November 2009

Thanks Paul and Linda. I learned a lot too about our website's functionality and was really impressed by everyone's work. Look forward to continued conversations.

paulkelly19 - 2.11 PM, 26 November 2009
This workshop was very informative and the website is impressive. The Sets facility will be particularly useful as I share them with colleagues across Stages back at school. Thanks for an eye-opening day and I look forward to more involvement with the Australian Museum in the future.
vmlinda - 1.11 PM, 26 November 2009
Thank you to all the staff for an informative workshop. I will certainly use the information to inform my teaching in the coming year. It was particularly impressive to be able to show the link directly to "my favourites" at the Museum.

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